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The use of functional epirubicin liposomes to induce programmed death in refractory breast cancer

Authors Liu L, Mu LM, Yan Y, Wu JS, Hu YJ, Bu YZ, Zhang JY, Liu R, Li XQ, Lu WL

Received 25 January 2017

Accepted for publication 18 April 2017

Published 1 June 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 4163—4176

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S133194

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Linlin Sun


Lei Liu, Li-Min Mu, Yan Yan, Jia-Shuan Wu, Ying-Jie Hu, Ying-Zi Bu, Jing-Ying Zhang, Rui Liu, Xue-Qi Li, Wan-Liang Lu

Beijing Key Laboratory of Molecular Pharmaceutics and New Drug System, State Key Laboratory of Natural and Biomimetic Drugs, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

Abstract: Currently, chemotherapy is less efficient in controlling the continued development of breast cancer because it cannot eliminate extrinsic and intrinsic refractory cancers. In this study, mitochondria were modified by functional epirubicin liposomes to eliminate refractory cancers through initiation of an apoptosis cascade. The efficacy and mechanism of epirubicin liposomes were investigated on human breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo using flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, high-content screening system, in vivo imaging system, and tumor inhibition in mice. Mechanistic studies revealed that the liposomes could target the mitochondria, activate the apoptotic enzymes caspase 8, 9, and 3, upregulate the proapoptotic protein Bax while downregulating the antiapoptotic protein Mcl-1, and induce the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) through an apoptosis cascade. In xenografted mice bearing breast cancer, the epirubicin liposomes demonstrated prolonged blood circulation, significantly increased accumulation in tumor tissue, and robust anticancer efficacy. This study demonstrated that functional epirubicin liposomes could significantly induce programmed death of refractory breast cancer by activating caspases and ROS-related apoptotic signaling pathways, in addition to the direct killing effect of the anticancer drug itself. Thus, we present a simple nanomedicine strategy to treat refractory breast cancer.

Keywords: mitochondria, drug delivery, apoptosis, efficacy, signaling pathway

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